Hiding vegetables in food may not be a good strategy in your child’s path to health…
… even if it seems like a great delivery system for veggies to get into your picky eater’s belly.
Here are 2 reasons that discourage the stealthy veggie operation.
Why hiding vegetables doesn’t necessarily work on picky eaters
Why do you resort to adding cabbage into fruit shakes?
Because you’re worried that your picky eater isn’t getting nutrients she should from eating vegetables.
Tips such as modeling good behavior, the one-bite rule, and presenting a variety of vegetables just don’t seem to cut it.
You’ve even tried exaggerated facial expressions depicting how delectable okra seems to be…
…but they’re still not enough.
The whole healthy eating business can get extremely frustrating, which makes the stealth veggie operation an easy solution. I’ve even written about using this method as one of the steps in winning the vegetable wars.
But here’s why you should disclose mixing veggies into meals and baked goods:
1. Kids may still eat food they know contains vegetables
This is according to an interesting research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
68 kids in elementary and middle school were given 2 sets of snacks containing vegetables. Half of the treats declared their healthy content on the labeling, while the rest did not.
Kids were asked to compare the taste of labeled snacks (broccoli gingerbread spice cake, zucchini chocolate chip bread) and their non-labeled counterpart (gingerbread spice cake, chocolate chip bread).
They were also asked which one they preferred.
- Kids reported no taste difference between the following labeled and non-labeled snacks: (broccoli) gingerbread spice cake and (zucchini) chocolate chip bread. However, when it came to cookies with chickpeas:
- Kids said the cookies from the non-labeled packaging tasted better.
What these tell us
- Labels that declare vegetable content may not affect children’s food preferences. But what about item #2?
- The study also found that the participants ate more zucchini and broccoli in the past year prior to the study, compared to chickpeas. This suggested that they were familiar with the taste of the first two vegetables which explains their receptiveness to them.
What this means is: Kids may still willingly eat food they know have pureed vegetables in them.
2. It won’t be good in the long run
Is your overall goal to teach kids to eat healthy?
If so, then look for long-term solutions to getting your child to consciously choose eating vegetables. (How to do this is a separate post in itself and won’t be discussed here.)
Some argue that if vegetables are hidden in food, it defeats the purpose of educating kids about healthy eating, since they aren’t even aware of the veggies they’re wolfing down.
Hiding vegetables may seem like a good short-term solution, but not a long-term one.